P.O.D.: The Fundamental Elements of Southtown

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By Steve Lichtenstein

The video for P.O.D.‘s “Southtown” just aired on TRL Wannabees on MTV. What an appropriately titled venue for the video to appear on, considering the unabashed air of Rage Against the Machine-ishness that the song, and really the entire album, convey. It’s almost comical how “Southtown,” and “Hollywood” before it, reek of the anger and swagger that make Rage such a popular and powerful force in the current music scene. P.O.D., on the other hand, mostly due to the monkey-see, monkey-do aspect of their own music, don’t, and likely won’t reach such a status.

Which isn’t to say they’re not trying. The Fundamental Elements of Southtown wants desperately to be heard, to be accepted, to be influential. On its own, it might accomplish those things. But in the midst of a small, but growing, group of other outfits trying and excelling at the same task, the goal is more difficult. The rap/rock/screaming formula, when it’s on, is admirable, though not easily likeable and hardly distinct. Still, “Rock the Party Off the Hook,” cliché as it is, could probably hold true to its promise if given the chance. “Set Your Eyes to Zion,” the atypical track on the album, holds true to its rock/reggae intentions and makes for a good song. And the cover of U2’s “Bullet the Blue Sky” is actually pretty good, dead-on at times.

But it’s just too much. The barrage of thuddy drums, scathing guitars, and irate vocals wane after a while. And is there still a need for introductions on albums? Do we need “Greetings” to tell us that P.O.D. is coming at us? It doesn’t take a genius to figure it out. They’re coming at you so hard, it’s frightening at times.

A go to sleep album, it’s not. A loud effort, reminiscent of love them or hate them angst rap/rock martyrs it is, which prevails mildly at times, but ultimately suffocates in its own influence.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/pod-fundamental/